“We have 14 freshmen coming in that cover all of the positions,” said senior defender Strug. “(Wednesday) we had our first fitness test and everyone came in ready to go. We are just ready to start our season.”
The Lady Demons return 15 letterwinners that include seven seniors, six juniors and two sophomores.
“The team is already meshing well even though we have 15 returners and 14 newcomers,” said Strug. “Having 15 returners and almost as many coming in has really increased the competitiveness, which is we need to have a good season.”
“I just love the competitiveness and think it is really going to be good,” said senior forward Johnson. “I am expecting good things.”
Last year’s team took a major step forward when it won five league games, the most since 2005. Seven of the 11 starters from 2013 return, and with the addition of Johnson-who missed last season with an injury. The squad has a veteran feel despite the amount of newcomers.
“I tore my ACL the second game of last year against Baylor, and I was crushed,” said Johnson. “Now I get another chance at it, and I am excited about that.
“I am really excited about getting back and meeting 14 new girls,” said the Natchitoches native.
Northwestern State returns four of it’s six top scorers from a year ago, including Brooke Eastburg who tied for the team lead (8 points) in 2013. Cassandra Briscoe had six points, Nikki Saunders had five and Johanna Sigvardsson had four.
Another position the Lady Demons have to replace is the goalkeeper. Jessica Danku started 18 of the 19 games in goal in 2013, but returner Brooke Bourbonais also has a lot of experience under her belt. Bourbonais started all 18 games in 2012, and registered almost 1400 minutes in goal.
“We also have a new graduate assistant who is going to be our new goalkeepers coach,” said Strug. “We have two freshmen goalkeepers coming in as well as one returning.”
Northwestern State added Emily Morphitis from Hofstra as its graduate assistant in charge of goalkeepers. With Bourbonais, she will work with freshmen Alex Latham and Cadence Starr.
“We think she will add a lot so, so we’re excited about those changes.”
“We had our fitness test Wednesday morning, and that is one thing every single one of us dreads all summer,” said Johnson. “Now we are all excited for the season.”
Head coach George Van Linder enters his third season at the helm for Northwestern State, and 16th year overall. His career record stands at 147-129-24.
The Lady Demons open the season on Aug. 22 against Louisiana College at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.